Selecting a food industry ERP - what to bear in mind

Food industry manufacturers need ERP.  What factors are important that might not apply to another business also in the ERP market?


Regardless of the food industry sector, all need outstanding traceability in both directions, from the supplier to the customer and back from the customer to the supplier.  This requirement comes from government and industry regulation and from concern related to consumers who have become ill from eating a wide variety of food.  No one wants to be the cause of illness or death and if the unfortunate occurs, you’ll need to be able to document the whole path and quickly determine where the problem began and fix it.

Recommended reading: get all you need to know about selecting a food ERP with this step-by-step guide to selecting process manufacturing ERP


Not the he and she kind, but use by and expiration dates.  Most products in the food industry must be consumed within a short time period.  Food ERP systems must be able to track dates from production, shipment, or even from the harvest.  Food must be processed and shipped within a time limit.  Then it must be delivered to a grocer so that business has time to stock it and sell it within the product’s life.

Food industry segment

The food industry has many different segments.  A meat cutting operation has only a little similarity with a fruit cannery.  A processor that mixes peanut butter uses different methods than another business that packages fresh vegetables for salads.  Find an ERP system that can demonstrate proven value to other businesses in your segment.  Develop your own list of requirements that meet the specific needs your business has.  Think some on what requirements another business in the food industry might have.  You’ll recognize when a potential vendor doesn’t understand your segment.

Coproducts and byproducts

These are common in many food industries and less common in many other industries.  So, a good food industry ERP system should recognize both and include both as inventory related to the basic food business that can be used.  A byproduct from food might be usable as animal feed rather than treating it as waste.  Distillers grain is a coproduct of corn and a source of additional revenue.  Using an ERP developed with your industry in mind can open up by and coproducts for your business you have not yet been able to tap.  Someone might buy the stuff you have been paying for and hauling as waste.

Any ERP vendor can claim to know the food industry.  Find one that knows it as well as you do and understands what makes your business unique.

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Tom Miller

About the author…

Tom completed implementations of Epicor, SAP, QAD, and Micro MRP. He works as a logistics and supply chain manager and he always looks for processes to improve. He lives near San Francisco Bay in California and can be found on the water in his kayak or on the road riding his motorcycle. Contact Tom at

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Tom Miller

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